Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

Olympics: we all gain


It is starting and I am getting excited? As Olympics minister Tessa Jowell pointed out at this week's first ever London 2012 business summit, 'the Games are already starting to become a reality'.

It is just six months since London won its bid and we are now starting to see many crucial elements of the Olympic effort slotting into place, with formal appointment of the team to design the park and infrastructure.

But, of course, you do not live in London, or anywhere near the South East. So what's the big deal, I hear you say. What is there to get excited about?

Well to put it bluntly, plenty.

It has been said before - the London 2012 Games are a national event and will have a massive positive and tangible impact on the whole of the UK.

Whether through real economic benefits from design, construction and operation contracts, increased business and boosted tourism, or via the less tangible good feeling and optimism generated across the nation by the Games, everyone will win.

The cash benefits to the whole nation were also confirmed at the end of last year in a government-backed Olympics Impact Study. This showed that the Games will contribute at least £1.9bn to the nation's annual economic output, generate £3.2bn of intangible feel good benefits (80% of which it claims will be outside London), create 39,000 jobs in London and 8,000 across the rest of the UK.

The plan and timetable was also fleshed out in more detail this week and again shows that around £100M will be available after the event to plough into UK sport which, on top of the new infrastructure created around the UK, must make it worthwhile for the whole nation.

All this assumes, of course, that the event is a resounding success. Make no mistake - we really have got to get cracking right now if London is to get ready in time for the most spectacular Olympic Games by 2012.

There will no doubt be some element of frustration among the many construction professionals who have been preparing their shop fronts and building teams ready to bid to deliver this once in a lifetime project. Yet for all the waiting, this week's summit does demonstrate that progress is being made - and that big contracts are at last being let.

So it must continue. The fact that the land is not available until 2008 is no reason to ease the pace of preparation - the earlier the design, construction and project management professionals can be appointed and set free to create the necessary infrastructure the better.

That said, now is a great time to get things set up right. Bearing this in mind it seems good news that Olympic Delivery Authority chief executive David Higgins has opted to review and widen the scope of the programme managers' role to hand them more control of the detail of major stadium and venue contract procurement, and thus enable a leaner ODA to steer the project more effectively.

The UK is littered with examples of successful and unsuccessful construction projects.

Higgins clearly knows that for this complex project to be uccessful it is crucial that his team is lean and smart; but that whoever drives the programme for him is given the freedom to control the risk effectively and be properly rewarded for doing so.

For without doubt there will be rewards on offer. The 2012 Olympics really do present the whole nation - and in particular the design and construction professions - with an opportunity to showcase excellence.

Antony Oliver is NCE's editor

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Please note comments made online may also be published in the print edition of New Civil Engineer. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.